Updated and Finished 10-12-06: The following is a rough draft of a Short Horror Story I’m working on featuring Spitfire of my Seraph Hunter book. The Seraph Hunter Universe mixes the horror genre with the comic book genre. Anyways, I hope you enjoy it.
Bunikins, Blood Sprites, and Ganglyrot… Oh, My!
Written by: Ben Marroquin
Dezrie Breanne Hernandez was walking down Henderson Street, her red curly hair dancing in the wind like a flame, pondering life. She would love to be out and about, doing what other high school seniors were doing on such a great autumn night, but she wasn’t like other teenagers. No, she had gifts, a calling, which led to great responsibilities; life and death responsibilities.
It was these very real responsibilities that had her out, patrolling the west side of Paradise city. She didn’t like patrolling this side of city, not because it was a blighted neighborhood or anything like that. Quite the contrary, it was a labyrinth of quaint neighborhoods filled with real mom and dad families and the beautiful Grace Falls Park was its heart. But it was a rather quiet area of the city.
Rarely did anything out of the usual occur here, giving her plenty of time to think about how different her life would be if she wasn’t gifted, if she wasn’t a seraph hunter. Come on girl, get your head in the game. Don’t dwell on what ifs she thought to herself as she watched the festive Hallows’ Eve decorations adorning many of the houses; glowing jack-o-lanterns, cobwebbed porches, stuffed scarecrows, paper black cats, ghostly doormats, and cackling witches.
This wasn’t the kind of night Dez had in mind. No, she loved being in the thick of the action that Serenity Cemetery or Coventon Docks or even downtown Mirth Plaza provided.
Her auburn trench coat flapped lightly in the wind as she spotted strange beams of light pointing to the sky coming from across the street, three houses down. Her pulse quickened as she heard the creaking of a wooden gate. Her body tensed as she spotted shadows coming forth. And her heart fell as the tension left her body when she heard them, a half dozen or so kids excitedly chatting about playing hide and seek in the park.
She watched, with a bit of envy, as the carefree group of tweens rounded the block and headed towards Grace Falls Park, just a few short blocks away, to play their night games.
Dez reached the intersection and looked down Forest Street, in the direction the kids had taken to the park. She heard rustling coming from the bushes near a fence leading to the back of a white house on her right. That can’t be the kids, they should be near the park by now she thought to herself.
She took a few tentative steps onto the lush front lawn of the house, moving towards the bushes. That’s when she saw one of them, a rather large cute rabbit. Its honey hued eyes softly glowed as they focused on her. She took a few more steps near it, when a dozen more glowing eyes appeared through the bushes.
She stopped a mere 10 yards away from them and stared at the one outside of the bushes. “Aren’t you an odd little fluffy brown bunny?” she said softly to herself. It lifted and turned its head to the side as it seemed study her in return. Its long dangly ears flopped onto the cool grass, the tips forked like a snake’s tongue.
Dez reached into the inside pocket of her trench coat, pulled out her cell phone, and clicked a picture of the strange bunny as it turned to its side. She noticed that it had small horns near its temples, four hind legs, and a row of ebony spikes protruded from the top of its head down the length of its spine. She took a couple of steps closer, to make sure she wasn’t imagining it.
Suddenly, the bushes exploded in a flurry of furry action as dozens of the autumn hued bunnies bounded over the six foot high wooden fence.
Dez rushed forward and jumped to the top of the fence, her trench coat billowing like a cape. She perched there and watched the creatures cross the lawn and bound over the far fence, into the backyard of the house from the back block. She hit the speed dial for her handler, Averus, as she jumped down and made her way to the back fence. She stood on a iron bench there and looked over the fence.
The fluffy critters were feasting in a vegetable garden.
“Are you okay?” Averus said with concern in his voice. He knew she was patrolling the west side, the quiet side of the city, so he figured something serious must be happening for Dez to call, and that worried him. Then again, he always felt fatherly worries when any of his hunters were out on patrol, but that was their calling. “What’s the danger? Do you need backup? I’ll send Ripshade and Hellbeast…”
“Whoa, slow down. It’s all good. No need to panic… I think.”
“Are you sure? What’s the situation?”
“Look, I’m trailing these weird fluffy looking bunnies and just wanted to know what I’m dealing with. I took a pic with my cell, hold on while I send it to you.”
Averus looked at the picture, the relief was evident in his voice, “It’s just a pack of Bunikins. They’re pesky little beasts that feed on plants and plant life. I don’t think Thorn would like them or gardeners for that matter. Still, they’ll only attack humans if they’re cornered and feel their life is in danger.”
“They’re cute, could I keep one as a pet?”
“Sure, they look cute now, but you won’t be thinking that when they change. Their fur falls out, replaced with tough leathery skin. Their forked ear tips grow barbs and front paws become long sinewy arms ending in clawed hands.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad, kind of like a naked mole rat…”
“It’s a Disn…”
“Never mind. Besides, I’m not finished. Their bodies lengthen and twist upright as ripples of small muscular growth take shape. Their horns and the spikes on their backs lengthen and sharpen. Their maws become jackal-like with vicious rows of needle teeth. And though they may only stand about thigh high, with their four kangaroo like legs, they can jump well over a dozen feet in the air.”
“Oh… so they’d go all ‘gremlin-ly’ on us. Okay then, that’s a no on the pet front. Well… umm…. what do you what me to do with them?”
“Well, after they’re done eating, they should head back to the forest. Still, it would be best to relocate them, away from the city. I’ll send Ripshade over. With your help, he should be able to capture them in his shadow webs. Then we can load them into the van…”
“The one I’m going to…”
A chorus of broken screams pierced the night, seizing Dez’s attention. “Averus, I got to fly! There are screams coming from the park.” She flipped the phone close just as Averus was telling her to be careful and placed it back into her pocket. She willed the change to come as she jumped to the top of the fence.
Her skin became lined with diamond shapes as her bones and muscles thickened. Her clothes, enchanted by Averus’s rune magic, stretched to fit her new form. She used her new strength to spring high into the air, as draconic wings with bladed tips burst through the hidden slits of her trench coat. Powerful flaps carried her up into the night sky as her flesh hardened, transforming into maroon scales. Beautiful tattoo like patterns of gold flames emerged on her chest, forearms, lower legs, and wings as her face became golden-hued.
The Bunikins watched Spitfire, the draic fae seraph hunter, take flight, then resumed their feast once she was lost from sight.
Spitfire reached the nearby park within moments. Flecks of red filled her onyx eyes as she shifted her vision into the infrared spectrum. She spotted three red glowing child sized bodies running, flailing their hands frantically above them, as if swatting at something. They were heading away from the east side of the park; away from where the Grace River separated the park from the forest.
They emerged from the oak trees behind the children, dozens of owl sized winged creatures chasing their winded prey. They glowed softly red on a cool landscape of blues. Spitfire pumped her wings with urgency, picking up speed. Infrared vision was great for spotting living creatures, but it was severely lacking in the detail department so she shifted her eyesight back, in order to get a better view of the swarm: “Blood Sprites!” she said with a snarl.
She moved in to intercept them, hovering over the path of the fleeing children. That’s when the children saw her, they stopped dead in their tracks as their faces became paintings of fear. “What are you doing? Get moving,” Dezrie snapped at them, pointing towards the west. They just stood there, looking at her, dumbfounded by the fact that this fierce looking draconic beast just spoke to them.
Meanwhile, the swarm of Blood Sprites halted at the sight of this new arrival. They clacked to each other through their splintered teeth, hovering on their leaf like wings, trying to decide who should attack Spitfire first. Clearly, it was an honor they were willing to volunteer others for.
Spitfire looked down at the children once more and spoke, “I’m one of the good guys here to save you, so if you have any sense in your heads, you’ll do as I say and RUN that way, NOW!” Her words drove them into action. They made a run for safety.
The Blood Sprites, seeing their feast run away, found their courage and rushed forward.
Spitfire smiled as she eyed them: patches of moss covered their bark skin, branching arms ended in thorny claws, taloned tendrils dangled on the end of root like legs, and wine bead eyes glistened on their dark wooden faces.
“Barbeque anyone?” She said with a wicked smile as slits opened up on the palms of her draconian clawed hands. Her tail whipped side to side, swishing her trench coat, as she reveled in the blissful burning sensation that flowed through her veins and down her arms, seeking release.
She pointed her draic hands, palms open, at the horde and shot forth bursts of fireballs. The shower of fire struck three of the Blood Sprites. They screeched in pain as they fell towards the lush green grass below, consumed in a fiery death.
The Blood Sprites swarmed Spitfire, pulling hair, slashing trench coat, raking halter top and black jeans. Her clothes were taking a real beating, but her draic scales were protecting her from their angry assault. Two more Blood Sprites hurtled towards the ground in a blaze as the wind became scented with a mixture of smoked wood and musk.
The sight and sizzling smell of their fallen brethren struck fear into their hearts. The Blood Sprites made a hasty retreat towards the river.
Spitfire was about to give chase when one of the children cried out, “Please save them! The monsters… it got my brother and friends by the river. It stuck something in my brother’s mouth and he fell to the ground… and… please you have to help them.” Spitfire wanted to ask the teary eyed girl some questions, but knew time was of the essence; she headed towards the river.
She switched to the infrared spectrum in order to spot them quicker. The sounds of rushing water greeted her as she neared the bridge leading into the forest. She spotted four red softly glowing child sized bodies near the river’s bank, a mere five yards away from the bridge.
It slithered out from under the bridge, breaking through the darkness of the shadows on eight root like legs. Vines and black thorn spikes adorned its long thin muscled body. Sap hued eyes targeted Spitfire as its demonesque face broke open in a wide mouthed smile, displaying a row of slimy black thorn teeth.
Its long gangly arms ended in evergreen hands. It opened its tendril like fingers (which ended in black thorn claws) as vine whips emanated from its palms. It clenched the rot vine whips as the tips become flayed into three strips and were covered in thistles. The plant beast lashed out in a quick succession of strikes at an unsuspecting Spitfire.
Spitfire screeched out in pain as one of the whips lashed her right wing while the other one wrapped round her ankle. The scales, where the whip lashed her wing, began to lose their luster while the scales, wrapped under the vine of the whip on her ankle, not only lost its healthy shade of maroon and gold flame, but were becoming brittle.
She looked down, but couldn’t see her attacker, it was invisible to her infrared vision. Pain etched her face as she switched her vision back and recognized the plant demon at once; a Ganglyrot.
It started to pull her down, she reacted instinctively, by slicing through the vine with the bladed tip of her left wing, setting herself free. She began to fly evasively round the Ganglyrot as it spun round, tracking her with its eyes, making its way towards the fallen children. Spitfire hurtled three fireballs at the beast; it cackled in pain as a fireball struck its left shoulder, perfuming the air with the scent of steamed vegetables.
The Ganglyrot secreted a greenish milky substance which put out the flame on its shoulder and began healing it. Damn! It’s protected from my fireballs. Hmmm… let’s see if that milky stuff will protect it from my Liquid Fire Blast.
Spitfire tucked in her wings and dove at the Ganglyrot, swishing left, then right as it lashed out as her with its vine whips. She opened her palms and sprayed forth a reddish oily substance. The Ganglyrot lifted its arms, shielding its face as the liquid rained down on him. Spitfire opened her wings and pumped them hard as the Ganglyrot turned round and lashed out at her.
She screeched in pain as one of the whips found its mark and lashed her back. She could feel those scales lose their luster and strength as she spun round and shot forth two fireballs. They struck the Ganglyrot, setting the oily liquid ablaze. The sound of the crackling fire was drowned out by the piercing screams of the Ganglyrot as it flung itself on the ground, rolling.
The Blood Sprites swarmed out of the trees from the forest across the river as Spitfire dove down towards the Ganglyrot, intent on ending the fight. They caught her by surprise as they plummeted into her, protecting their master, and causing her to crash land on the ground as the Ganglyrot rolled into the river.
The Blood Sprites began raking at her wounded scales, causing her to yelp in pain as they pulled scales up and out, exposing the flesh beneath. She thrashed about viciously, sending many of the little beasts flying. She quickly got to her knees, then from a squatting position, jump her into the air and took flight as the Blood Sprites, emboldened by the scent and taste of her blood, followed.
She reached into her tattered coat, looking for her cell to call for back up, but only found a torn pocket. She spun round and shot forth a volley of fireballs at the hungry horde of Blood Sprites. The mass of winged beasts drifted apart, as several plummeted towards the ground in a blaze, allowing her to see the Ganglyrot striding towards the prone children. Oh no! I can’t let it eat those poor kids alive. She tucked her wings and moved in to intercept him.
The Ganglyrot spotted her and lifted its hands towards the children. Three of the children rose awkwardly to their feet and shambled over to surround the Ganglyrot in a protective circle. What in the… Spitfire didn’t get to finish her thought, she opened her wings to avoid flying into them, but it was too late.
The children lifted their hands up in the air as vines ripped through the flesh of the palms. Spitfire pumped her wings, altering her course over the children as their vines wrapped round her legs, arms, and waist causing her to slam into the ground.
Through blurry swaying vision, she saw the Ganglyrot approach her with a dark smile of victory. It cupped something in its hands, then forced it into her mouth; it was a seed.
The same type of seed that it forced into the mouth of the children, that went down into their throats, where it sprouted into a vine that ripped through the lining, leaving a sap like substance behind to close the tear. The vine then squirmed its way round organs, muscles, and flesh as it wrapped itself round bones. The Ganglyrot then controlled these vines like strings on a marionette, turning its victims into flesh puppets.
But that wasn’t the worst of it, it could then rip the flesh off of its victims to eat as the vines closed the wounds, ensuring that the victim would live and stay fresh for as long as possible. Unfortunately, the vines didn’t protect the victim from feeling pain or consciousness. And if the Ganglyrot was killed, the vines would then transform the remaining living victims into Ganglyrots.
Spitfire felt the seed enter her mouth. She struggled against the hold of the Ganglyrot and its puppets as the seed began making its way towards her throat. She lashed out at the Ganglyrot with her tail as the Blood Sprites began landing on the ground, forming a circle round her. She began to cough and choke as it entered her throat, the Ganglyrot clasped its hand over her mouth to keep her from spitting it out. She felt it wiggling in her throat as it began to sprout.
Her stomach rumbled as a phlegm like substance rose up into her throat, surrounding the seed, and spewed forth out her mouth, washing over the hand of the Ganglyrot. It moved its hand back in tremendous pain and shook it to and fro as the burning phlegm like substance withered the seed and its hand away.
The Blood Sprites flocked towards her as the flesh puppets began lashing her with their vine whips. Spitfire thrashed about wildly, her scales moist with rot and blood, as the cold realization of death began to wash over her. I should have called for backup. Now I’m going to be killed by a salad bar… I’m sorry sis…
Her vision began to darken as she saw shadows bounding towards her: “help me,” she softly rasped.
The Ganglyrot reached out towards her throat with its good hand as the Blood Sprites clacked in joy for the feast. Then they screamed in pain as a flood of bounding long eared furless beasts tore into them with gnashing teeth and raking claws.
The Bunikins began tearing into this moving ‘all you can eat’ buffet, ignoring Spitfire. Blood Sprites took flight, only to be brought crashing back down to earth, as Bunikins bounded up after them, keeping the fight on the ground. Spitfire got to her feet shakily and nearly laughed in hysteria as she took in the scene; a miniature war raged round her as Bunikin battled Blood Sprite.
She spotted the Ganglyrot making its way towards the old stone bridge and gave chase. She jumped over the flesh puppets and landed on the bridge with a thud. The Ganglyrot spun round to face her and gave silent commands to the flesh puppets; they lifted their whip wielding hands, ready to lash out, but Spitfire struck first. She jumped straight at the Ganglyrot, slashed its arm off with the bladed tip of her wing, and spit a glob of magma in its face.
The Ganglyrot thrashed to the floor of the stone bridge, its body quaked in death throes as its head withered away to ash. The flesh puppets, no longer controlled by the Ganglyrot, fell to the ground as the Bunikins bounded over the river, with their meals in tow, and disappeared into the forest. Spitfire looked down and turned the remains of the Ganglyrot to ash.
She limped to the edge of the bridge and stared at the flesh puppets that were children. What am I going to do with you three? she thought sadly to herself. She knew she couldn’t just leave them lying there on the ground. Now that the Ganglyrot was dead it was just a matter of time before they became Ganglyrots. She knew what she had to do, no matter how much it pained her, she knew.
She summoned the fires to burn through her veins, down her trembling arms, and opened her palms towards the children. “Spitfire! Spitfire!” they called as tears flowed down her golden hued cheeks. She lifted her hands up into the air and released a pair of signaling fireballs as she fell to her knees.
Her sister, Frostbite, found her first and rushed to her side. Ripshade and Thorn reached the draic fae sisters and noticed the children lying motionless on the ground. They looked at the badly injured Spitfire questioningly. She looked up at them through watery eyes, “They were attacked by a Ganglyrot and a horde of Blood Sprites. They’ve been implanted with Gangly Seeds and will soon become Ganglyrots… we must, you know, before they rise. There is another one by the bank of the river, but I think… dead from blood loss, damn Blood Sprites.”
“I can take them to the shadow realms…” Ripshade began to say.
“No, let me try something first,” Thorn said. Six powerful vine snakes, emanating from her back, surrounded her; guarding the druic fae seraph hunter. Her mahogany hair waved in the wind as she lifted her hands over the bodies of the children; her evergreen eyes began to softly pulse as her body tingled with nature’s energy.
She channeled the energy into the bodies of the children as their bodies began to quiver with internal movement. The vines unwrapped themselves from bones and ripped a hole in the flesh of their palms; they squirmed their way round organs, muscle, and flesh out of the bodies of the children where they were burned to ash by Spitfire.
Thorn then closed their wounds with a healing sap like substance and wrapped their hands in healing leafs. They walked over to the fourth child, by the bank of the river, but it was too late for this young girl. Thorn removed the vines from her body, ensuring that she wouldn’t change, and Spitfire turned them to ash. Thorn then tended Spitfire’s wounds as the sounds of sirens began to fill the park.
“We can’t save them all Dez, no matter how hard we try. Remember, without you, without all of us, there would be so much more pain and suffering and death… those three you just saved would be among them.” Ripshade said as the four seraph hunters left the scene unseen.